332 B. POLEVOI
"Where are you off to?" said the colonel, intercepting
him. He took Meresyev's hand and squeezed it with his
own small, wiry hand so hard that it hurt. "Well, what
can I say to you? Good lad! I am proud to have men like
you under me___Well, what else? Thanks-----Yes, and
that pal of yours, Petrov I mean. He's a good lad, too.
And the others.... I tell you, we can't lose the war with
men like you!"
And again he firmly squeezed Meresyev's hand.
It was night before Meresyev found himself in his dug-
out, but he could not fall asleep. He turned his pillow
over, counted up to a thousand and then counted back-
wards, recalled all his acquaintances whose names began
with "A", then with "B", and so on, and then started
unblinkingly at the dim light of the kerosene-lampóbut
all these welltried methods of inducing sleep proved
ineffective. No sooner did he shut his eyes than familiar
pictures rose before him, now vividly, and now barely
distinguishable in the gloom: Grandpa Mikhail's troubled
eyes looking at him from under his silvery locks; Andrei
Degtyarenko blinking his "cow's eyelashes"; Vasily Vasi-
lyevich shaking his grey-streaked mane and scolding
somebody; the old sniper, his soldier's face wrinkled up
in a smile; he saw the waxen face of Commissar Vorobyov
against the white background of his pillow, gazing at him
with his clever, penetrating, bantering, understanding
eyes; Zinochka's red hair flashed before him, fluttering
in the breeze; little, vivacious Instructor Naumov smiled
and winked at him with sympathy and understanding.
Many splendid, friendly faces looked and smiled at him
out of the darkness, rousing recollections and filling his
already overflowing heart with warmth. But from among
these friendly faces, and at once blotting them out, arose
the face of Olya, the lean face and large, tired eyes of
a boy in an officer's uniform. He saw her as clearly and
distinctly as if she were really before himóand in a
way he had never seen her in real life. So vivid was the
vision that it startled him.
What was the use of trying to sleep! Conscious of an
influx of joyous energy, he sat up, trimmed the "Stalin-
gradka", tore a page out of an exercise book, sharpened
the point of his pencil and began to write.